KATHMANDU, Sept 16: The Dashain-Tihar festive season is already knocking at our doors. The season is not just about all the celebrations, rituals, and merrymaking but also about a long holiday. It is probably the only time during the year that whole families get a long holiday together. This year, a lot of them are opting to go on a vacation, tour operators say. And the most preferred destination for many of them is Thailand.
Travel agents, who have come up with special package for this season, are having a field day. “We have booked packages for nearly twice as many people this season as compared to last year. Most of them are leaving Kathmandu for Bangkok on September 25, the day of Fulpati,” Astha Thapa, Sales Assistant at President Travel and Tours, told myrepublica.com. “I guess people just want to get away from their daily routine here. And the packages on offer are very affordable.”
Not only this season, Thailand has seen a rise in the number of tourists throughout this year. The rise is attributed mostly to the Thai government´s decision to waive visa fees as part of its Destination Thailand campaign. Travel agents here, too, are making most of the Thai government decision by devising attractive packages. Two major airlines - Thai Airways and our own Nepal Airlines Corporation - are offering special promotional seats at lower rates.
The number of Nepalis receiving Thailand visas in the first eight months of 2009 has increased by 30 percent as compared to the figures of same period last year, according to Royal Thai Embassy in Kathmandu. “The airfare is lower right now and hotels in Thailand have also slashed prices to attract more people from South Asian block, keeping in mind the global recession which has cut down the arrivals from other countries,” Jirajett Wongnorraset, First Secretary at the Thai Embassy, told myrepublica.com. Wongnorraset says the visa fee waiver will continue till March 2010.
Although exact figures are not available yet, three major travel agents offering tour packages to Thailand say they have each booked around 100 tourists for the Dashain-Tihar season.
The costs for the packages are as low as Rs 22,299 plus tax and surcharge. When rounded up, low-end packages come for around Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per person for a four to five day package. But these are for the limited promotional seats provided by the airlines. Potential travelers should book those seats as soon as possible as there are only a few on offer.
The costs also go up for the same packages if the travelers choose to upgrade to higher star-rated hotels. Travel agents are also very open to customizing the tour packages, adding destinations, hotels and days according to the traveler´s preferences. Most offered tour packages are only valid for at least two travelers. Single people will have to pay a bit more.
Marco Polo Travels
The major package offered by the agency is a five nights and six days one with three nights in Bangkok, two in Pattaya and a day trip to the Coral Islands. The hotels -- Baiyoke Suite in Bangkok and Gazebo Hip Resort in Pattaya -- are three star, provided on twin sharing basis, and travel is by luxury coach.
The package is offered at $190 (Rs 14,880) per person, exclusive of airfare. Marco Polo´s another package -- three nights in Bangkok and two nights in Phuket -- is offered at $ 240 (around Rs 18,900), exclusive of air fare. Similarly, a three nights in Bangkok package is offered at $120 (around Rs 9,398).
The agency also has other packages, which can be customized to suit the travelers´ desires, according to Supriya Shakya, Manager of Tours, Marco Polo. The agency provides special discounts for children.
President Travel and Tours
The most popular package from President Travel and Tours, located in Durbar Marg, gives travelers four nights and five days in Pattaya and Bangkok. Tours include a speed boat ride to the Coral Islands and other popular destinations in Bangkok.
The tour is offered at Rs 22,229 per person, including a round trip ticket in Nepal Airlines Corporation´s promotional seats. An additional sum, which could be between Rs 7,330 to Rs 12,000, is charged for the ticket´s tax, depending on NAC´s tariff structure. The agency also offers discounts for children.
A seven nights and eight days package to Pattaya, Phuket and Bangkok costs around Rs 28,999 per person; a six days and five nights package to Bangkok and Phuket costs Rs 33,999; a Pattaya-Bangkok-River Kwai and Tiger Temple package costs Rs 27,999 and a Pattaya-Bangkok-Singapore package costs Rs 45,999.
Lalit Mandap Travels and Tours
Tel: 5546526, 4239000
Lalit Mandap has offices in Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk and Durbar Marg. The agency´s most sold packages are for large groups of 16 or more. This is an eight days tour to Bangkok and Pattaya and it comes at around Rs 64,500, including airfare. The package, preferred by corporate houses and families and friends´ groups, also comes with a caretaker and lodging at ´high-end three-star and above rated hotels.
“We call this the Group Integrated Tour (GIT). The travelers can totally relax and enjoy the tour as our people will look after their every need,” Ravin Man Bajracharya, CEO, Lalit Mandap, says.
A five day tour to the region costs Rs 16,000, exclusive of airfare while a three days tour of Bangkok costs Rs 14,000. Lalit Mandap floats five packages for Thailand alone and five more to the East Asia region. The agency also offers discounts for children.